The cold war has come to an end, intelligence agencies in the East and the West have lost their respective central adversaries. In the GDR, the domestic intelligence agency within the Ministry of State Security was dissolved prior to East Germany’s incorporation into West Germany. No more work for the do-mestic intelligence agency bureaus in the FRG? This issue of CILIP is devoted to the past and present realities of the domestic intelligence agencies in the GDR and the FRG.
W. D. Narr/ F. Werkentin
Stasi = „Verfassungsschutz“?
Our staff editorial investigates the differences and similarities between the domestic intelligence agency of the former GDR (i.e.the former „Stasi“ – an abbreviation for Staatssicherheit) and the three respective agencies Bundesnachrichtendienst ‚BND‘, Militärischer Abschirmdienst ‚MAD‘, Ämter für Verfassungsschutz) in the FRG. On the one hand, there were major differences in personnel strength and authority: The East German „Stasi“ was equipped with 85,000 full-time officers for a total country population of roughly 17 million, while the three agencies in the FRG responsible for similar duties (surveillance of the population in general, of all aliens on West German soil, intelligence beyond the country’s borders and counterintelligence) had a total full-time staff of only 15,000 for a total population of 63,000. In addition, the West German agencies, in contrast to the „Stasi“ in the GDR, had no enforcement authority over the domestic population.
On the other hand, many of the methods were identical. By no means did the FRG agencies restrict themselves to collecting information on people,or preparing dossiers, or reading people’s mail or tapping people’s telephones. Their undercover agents, informers, and agents provocateurs and general disinfor-mation tactics significantly intervened in the domestic political order. Howe-ver, in the eyes of the staff editorialists the central difference lies in the differing societal context of the two German states: on the one hand single-party power over the state and society with no chance for creating any public sphere uncontrolled by the state, and, on the other hand, a bourgeois constitutional state offering a potential for political plurality – albeit restricted by state limitations – and a corresponding potential for criticism and counter-publicity, only minimally impaired by state force and influence.
The Cold War Kids – The Apparatuses of Domestic Security in the GDR and the FRG
This article provides an historical sketch of the development of the domestic intelligence and security services in both German states since the end of World War II. There were many moments of mirror reflection in the common deve-lopment of the services in the two countries, with a great deal of legitimation being provided by the mere existence of the services of the respective adversary. This type of counter-dependency is typical not only of the development of the domestic intelligence services, but also of the police in general, in particular with respect to police auxiliary forces.
The article ends with a plea for cashing in on the demise of the cold war and the incorporation of the GDR into the FRG by entering into a phase of disar-mament on the domestic intelligence front.
Life under the Stasi
The author has been an active member of the civil rights movement in the GDR since 1977. In 1979/80 he was sent to jail for 10 months as a result of his political activities and then later jailed again. Schult provides a brief look at the life and working conditions of oppositional groups in the GDR prior to the destruction of the Stasi since November 1989.
Life under the „Verfassungsschutz“
An author who prefers to remain anonymous has provided CILIP with a written account of his experience with the various bureaus of West Germany’s domestic intelligence service. Without in any way or manner desiring to diminish the tremendous differences in both the scope and severity of political repression in comparison with the GDR, the article makes it apparent that this side’s domestic intelligence services had ways and means of influencing the private lives and careers of critical citizens in this country without their having any opportunity to defend themselves or strike back.
From the Repertory of the Bureaus of the „Verfassungsschutz“
Even if the people of the FRG haven’t yet stormed the bureaus of their dome-stic intelligence agencies, a virtual plethora of information concerning their practices and activities has become available to public scrutiny. This CILIP staff report provides greater Germany’s new citizens from the GDR some in-sights into what awaits them once they become subject to the surveillance ser-vices of the domestic intelligence services in this country based on actual case material from the past.
Chronology of the Dissolution of the Stasi
IN CILIP issue no. 35 we started to provide a chronology of events leading to the complete dissolution of an intelligence service – historically, an extremely rare occassion. In the current issue we continue this chronicle.It reflects the major political disputes as to the manner in which such a service is to be dismantled, who shall have the rights to protect files and dossiers from being accessed by authorized persons and finally how society should deal with the 85,000 full-time Stasi employees and the estimated 500,000 persons who acted as small-time and big-time informers for that domestic intelligence service. In particular, GDR interim Minister of the Interior, Diestel has come under criticism for keeping former Stasi employees under employment in his ministry and pursuing a course of publicizing as little information as possible on Stasi activities and its undercover agents. The September 1990 attempt by the government of the FRG in collusion with the interim government of the GDR to place all the former Stasi files under the authority of the federal archives in Koblenz and to use them to perform security checks on persons applying for jobs in the civil services of a unified Germany, in other words to give the intelligence services of the FRG access to them created a tremendous public uproar.
A Summary of the Dissolution of the Stasi
Schwenke, a veteran of the GDR civil rights movement, has been occupied with dismantling the Stasi since last December, as was Rainer Schulte. Currently he is a staff member of the „State Committee for the Dissolution of the Stasi“. His appraisal is that it is justified to refer to the destruction of the ma-terial infrastructure of the Stasi as completed. However, the informal commu-nication structures and networks of former Stasi employees continue to exist.
Domestic intelligence in a unifid Germany
This article is primarily devoted to reviewing and analyzing a working paper prepared by the President of the Federal Bureau of Domestic Intelligence, Bo-eden, dated March 3, 1990. Boeden develops theses on the consequences of the collapse of the Eastern bloc and the resulting incorporation of the GDR into the FRG will have for his agency. Boeden’s main conclusion is that personnel reductions are not feasible due to the necessity of setting up new offices for his agency at the state level in the newly created states on the territory of the former GDR. Among the juicier tidbits in Boeden’s paper are his appraisal that former Stasi employees could be considered for employment in the new agency structures to the extent they had exhibited ‚precursory resistance‘ – whatever that may mean. In addition, the article also provides current stati-stics on the strength of the intelligence services of the FRG.
H. Busch/ F. Werkentin
Security Legislation at the End of the Current Legislative Session
This report provides a survey of the current status of pending so-called new security legislation shortly prior to the first all-German elections scheduled for December 2, 1990. Two legislative packages stand out: on May 31st the Bun-destag passed a package of reform legislation on intelligence services about which CILIP has continually reported since their introduction in 1986. The SPD, which could have prevented passage of this legislation in the upper house of West Germany’s parliamentary process, in the Bundesrat, opted, however, for approving the legislation. The second involves passage at the very last minute of another major package in the „war on drugs“, thus providing the police with the legal authority to use secret undercover agents and other intelligence methods. Here, we once again encounter the grand old coalition on internal security as it has existed in the FRG since its inception in 1949 and the erosion of civil liberties as they both march on.
An Interview with the Police Commissar of the Magistrate of (East) Berlin, Ibrahim Böhme
In this interview, Ibrahim Böhme, activist and veteran of the GDR civil rights movement as well as a founding member of the SPD of the GDR, provides an insight into the inner workings of the office of Police Commissar, newly created in June of this year in East Berlin.
The Information Policy of the Westberlin „Landesamt für Verfassungsschutz“
In the last issue of CILIP we reported on the new Westberlin policy of provi-ding limited information to citizens desirous of knowing what information concerning their persons is being stored by this domestic intelligence agency. Our author, currently employed as a scientific assistant to the AL fraction in the governing coalition in West Berlin’s muinicipal parliament as a specialist for intelligence service affairs, provides a detailed insight into current informational practices and a number of the idiosyncracies of current policies.
CILIP’s on-going literature column presents new literature on East Germany’s Stasi. As a result of the people’s storming of the Stasi central offices in Eastberlin and many of the nearly 10,000 local offices spread throughout the country, numerous documents about and from the Stasi have been published which provide us with a good look at the structure and inner workings of this domestic intelligence agency. Predominantly from small independent publishers which have come into being in conjunction with the new civil rights movement, they provide us with a wealth of new and otherwise unattainable information.